Click here for a print-friendly version
God Created People
Fall Quarter: God’s World and God’s People
Unit 1: God Created the World
Sunday school lesson for the week of September 16, 2018
By Dr. Nita Crump
Lesson Scripture: Genesis 1:26 – 2:7
Key Verse: Genesis 1:27
To consider what it means to be formed in the image of God.
David Phelps, a Christian artist known for both his solo work and his work with Bill Gaither, sings a song entitled “Virtuoso.” The song starts with these words: “A handful of dust, a worthless piece of clay, and you breathed the breath of heaven …”
The intent of the song, as I interpret it, is to showcase the difference between God the Creator and humanity the created. The lyrics tell the story of how our lives can be good if we let God write the song and direct the music. While this is certainly true, I disagree with the thoughts behind the opening lines. God created all that we can experience, including the dust and the clay. As he created, he pronounced everything good. Farmers across South Georgia will surely agree that the dirt that covers our fair state is good as it provides the medium in which many crops are grown! What better medium for God to use to create humans than the very dirt that continues to provide for us today?
Before we consider what it means to be made in God’s image, let’s consider how we were made. As we read the story of creation found in Genesis 1 and the early verses of Genesis 2, we find that God created by speaking. The word of God is powerful enough to create, to bring his thoughts to life. Genesis 2:7 tells us that when God created humans, he did so with touch. He formed humans from dirt and used divine CPR to breathe life into us. We were not created by his spoken word, but by the intimacy of touch. Humanity’s creation set us apart from the rest of creation in two ways – by the way in which we were created and by the expectations that came with being made in the image of the creator.
Today we carry computers in our pockets that can save an image of nearly anything and store it in a digital cloud. As long as we have these digital miracle machines, we can view our pictures any time we want to. We have mirrors that can reflect images with great accuracy, unless you find yourself in a fun house at the fair. We have paintings that sustain images for centuries and statues that reflect images until nature weathers the stone smooth. In today’s world, images are common. In the ancient world, humanity didn’t have quite so many ways to save and store images. In ancient times, images were so important that they were considered to carry the very essence of the person/god portrayed. Idols were images that represented a deity, carried the essence of the deity, and the deity’s work was accomplished through the image portrayed by the idol.
If the ancient writers of the creation story believed that a created image carried the essence of the portrayed and that the work of the portrayed could be accomplished through that image, what message do you think they were including in their telling of the creation story? Perhaps they were sharing their beliefs that humans were created in God’s image to carry the essence of God with them, to serve as his representatives in the world, and to be a vessel through which he could accomplish his work.
When my oldest son was born, I remember holding a picture of him at three weeks old beside a picture of me at three weeks and hearing many family members talk about how much he looked like me. The resemblance to the Crump side of the family continued to develop as he grew. But it wasn’t just the physical image that developed. As he grew, he began to act more and more like me. The image that he carries to this day represents not only his physical connection to me but also his emotional connection through attitude and character. Shouldn’t we be able to say the same thing about us in our relationship with God? If we are made in his image and carry his essence in order to be his representatives in the world and a vessel through which he can work, shouldn’t we grow to live and act more and more as he would want us to? Colossians 1:15 describes Christ as the image of the invisible God. Christ is the perfect image of God. We should strive to grow more and more Christlike so that the image of God we reflect to the world is a true image of the holy and almighty God.
What image of God do you reflect to the world? Are you reflecting the essence of the creator God? Are you serving as a vessel through which he can accomplish his plan and purpose for the world? Genesis 2:7 ends with these words, “The human came to life.” David Phelps sings these words, “This heart is your instrument, this life is your song.” Lord God Almighty, please make it so in my life because only when I live in this manner am I truly living as the image of the God who created me.
(Information in this article was drawn from The New Application Commentary, Genesis, From biblical text…to contemporary life
, John H. Walton, p 121 – 175.)
Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.